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How to Recognize Chigger Bites


A chigger is a six-legged larva that becomes a mite. Chiggers are found in tall grassy areas, berry patches, weedy areas and low damp areas. Chiggers give rather nasty bites, usually around the waist and ankles [source: University of Maryland, Koehler, Oi]. When the chigger bites you, it injects saliva that contains a powerful enzyme that dissolves your skin cells. The chigger then sits under the skin and sucks up the dissolved or liquefied skin cells. In time a tube-like structure of hardened cells is formed on your skin. This is called a stylostome, and this is what causes the terrible itch. When you start to scratch, you remove the chigger, which eventually dies [source: Missouri]. You'll only notice you've been bitten a number of hours after the fact [source: Missouri, Koehler, Oi]. Here's how to recognize chigger bites.

  • Itching Terrible itching is the most common symptom. The itching peaks about two days after being bitten.
  • Welt A red welt will form in the area of the bite. The longer the chigger feeds on the victim, the larger the welt will become [source: Missouri].

The symptoms usually resolve in about 10 days [source: Simpson].

Here are some precautions you can take to avoid being bitten by chiggers.

  • Avoid areas known to have chiggers, particularly in warm weather.
  • Cover up as much as possible, by wearing long sleeves and long pants.
  • Dust yourself with powdered sulfur, especially around the tops of your socks and round your waist [source: Missouri].
  • Apply mosquito repellant before venturing into areas that may be infested with chiggers [source: Simpson].
  • Bathe in warm water upon returning home. Chiggers often walk all over the host for a few hours, looking for the best place to feed. You may be able to wash them off before they bite you [source: Koehler, Oi, Simpson, Missouri].

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